Dec 7, 2012 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterFremont County Commissioners are giving their support to rebuilding the Darcie Zimmer Memorial Pathway in Riverton.
The recreation group Go Fremont County asked for help applying for and administering grants to fix the 2.5-mile paved recreation path running beside North Eighth Street West north of Sunset Drive.
Go Fremont County is a local group that has organized a triathlon in Riverton the past two summers. The group's president, Craig Blumenshine, said the organization's goal is to improve the health of Fremont County residents.
Blumenshine said Go Fremont County thought it could expand beyond staging the annual triathlon. The group wants to rebuild the Zimmerman path and is raising money to fund the project.
"It was a wonderful community project in the early 1980s," Blumenshine said. "Since that trail was constructed, nothing was done to maintain it. We would like to get it to be a nice trail again and continue to raise funds for its maintenance and maybe look at other trails to repair."
James Gores of the Riverton civil engineering firm James Gores & Associates spoke to the condition of the trail during the meeting.
"It's in such disrepair that it's not really useable," Gores said.
Blumenshine said many people in the county continue to use the trail because it is in a safe and beautiful setting, and he thinks more would use it if it were revitalized.
Local governments and recreation districts built the trail in the 1980s in honor of its namesake, Darcie Marie Zimmer. Zimmer was biking on North Eight Street West on Aug. 21, 1983, when a vehicle struck and killed her.
"We're asking for your blessing to move forward," Blumenshine told the commission. "We're asking to become partners with the county to chase grants. We're not asking for money."
Blumenshine noted that the county owns the path, but a small part of it is also within Riverton's boundaries.
The county could help Go Fremont County find and pursue grants only available to government entities, Blumenshine said.
Gores, who is also a committee member of Go Fremont County, prepared a working cost estimate for the project. He thinks it will cost between $434,000 and $506,000.
The group plans to fix some parts of the trail before it raises all the money needed to replace it.
"We're hoping to fix a hole in the path, do some culvert work and fix a bench," Blumenshine said.
He said those smaller projects can be done now and will not have to be redone when the whole path is rebuilt.
He estimates the cost of all three repairs will be under $5,000, and the group is pursuing an American Hiking Society National Trails Fund grant to pay for them.
Go Fremont County has already received $50,000 from Recreation District 25. Blumenshine said his group hopes to apply for several more grants by the end of year.
He said the repair project has the support of Zimmer's family.
In a letter to Go Fremont County, Zimmer's sister, Cescilee Rall, said, "I am so thankful that people in the Riverton community are discussing the need to keep the Darcie Zimmer Memorial recreational path in good working condition. The vision our family had in building this path was that it would always be a legacy to Darcie's love of participating in outdoor activities."
County officials also expressed their support for the project at the meeting.
"This is probably where Riverton is going to grow," commission vice chairman Pat Hickerson said. "I think the real challenge is figuring out who's responsible. ... It's something the city and the county can get together and partner with."
Commissioner Dennis Christensen said he was glad to see a private group take the reins.
"I think this is the only way these project get going, having a private or non-profit group (lead it)," Christensen said.
"Darcie was a classmate of mine," commissioner Travis Becker said. "I still remember the day she was killed. It was terrible. It's something I certainly don't want to see happen again. If we could partner with this group or any other group I think we should jump at it."
Blumenshine said the next day that he was happy with how the meeting went.
"We're really pleased that the county commissioners were open to our goal and are willing to support us however they can," Blumenshine said. "We'd like this to happen as quickly as we can but realize it could be a two- to three-year process."
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